This life is amazing! I did it, and so can you!
Kinda misses the point, don't you think?
Don't get me wrong. I'm really proud of myself for taking the risk to live this life. For following adventure and dreams when it wasn't the easy choice. For not falling back into a trap of comfortable marriage and the expected kids and home ownership and patio furniture. For listening to the lessons of trauma, and for choosing a radically different life - one that defies convention.
Wow! Go me! I did it!
I had a moment today, walking to our workspace in Buenos Aires. I was thinking about photography and getting frustrated that my photos of this city aren't great thus far. I thought of Amanda and felt so grateful for her lessons on how to use my camera. I thought of my father and my aunt, both of whom have studied photography and have a wonderful eye.
My thoughts shifted from photography to circumstance.
The change to nomadic life happened quickly for me. But I make big decisions quickly.
Four days after my college boyfriend's green card got denied, we were married. I cleared his stuff out of our house within a week of that marriage ending. And I saw a Facebook ad for Remote Year and quit my job two weeks later.
When I decide something big, it's decided.
But come on. I have the access to live decisively. That's privilege. That's circumstance and sometimes it's pure chance.
Ignoring circumstance is a primary reason for my annoyance with a lot of digital nomad blogs. Some depict two things, with which I take issue:
- I'm a nomad and why aren't you one, too? Your choices are wrong! Here's my three-step list to changing your life!
- Every travel moment is beautiful and great!
Not every travel moment is beautiful and great. Some of it beautiful and great. Some of it is hard and terrible. And a lot of it is mundane.
And your choices are not wrong. My choices came out of a lot of access, a lot of support.
I had the support system to let me build a precedent of decisiveness. I could marry my college boyfriend because my family (though very angry at my choice) rallied around me. I had the power to clear out my ex's stuff from my house because my mom drove three hours to help me.
And I could quit my job and sell everything I owned because of so many reasons.
Because my experience at my previous job stacked my resume. Because my skillset is in high demand in today's job market. Because my career translates perfectly to remote work. Because I knew I had a fallback cushion in my family, a cushion that I never want to use but will be there if I were to need it. Even if that need came out of my own irresponsible choices.
And now I travel freely on an American passport, a privilege in itself.
I have the access to work for people who built a company designed to support a lifestyle that rejects the norm. A company that embraces free spirits and gives freedom and autonomy and trust.
I have the privilege of owning a lightening-speed piece of technology that connects me to my teammates around the world and opens the door to working from anywhere with wifi.
I have a dad who taught me that working really hard isn't something to be admired. That the American tradition of putting career before all else is silly. A dad who rejects the reverence of affluence and was perhaps most proud of me when I quit my job and sunk all of my savings into a dream of a great perhaps.
I have a mom who taught me stubborn and determined optimism. She taught me not to fear change, but to shape that change into your own reality and to make it great, dammit. Except she wouldn't swear.
I have best friends who give me the purest and most honest love I know. Who tell me I'm nuts and keep me logical in my decisive (impulsive?) tendencies, but give me their support and companionship without condition. Best friends that will stay best friends, even halfway across the world.
I have a Jeff who will follow me anywhere. Who did follow me anywhere.
Sure, it's easy to feel like my decision was mine.
But it wasn't, not completely.
And so I think it's irresponsible to say it's replicable.
I hope you have the privilege of living a life like mine, if it's the life you want. But you might not have the support and the privilege and access for which I'm grateful. You might have medical bills or an ailing family member or a career that's impossible to do remotely or a beloved life partner who isn't into the idea of long-term travel.
My dad often tells me that every choice we make narrows our options. Narrow isn't bad, it's just narrow. Sometimes things blow up and give you a million new options and none of the ones that were there before and the narrow is gone for a while. Like divorce.
But then you choose different things, and your choices narrow again.
My choice to enter the field of marketing narrows my career options, my choice to travel with Jeff (and not alone) narrows the activities in which I participate, my choice to work remotely narrowed the jobs for which I could apply.
Narrow can be beautiful. My narrow is beautiful.
I'm grateful that my choices still allowed me to make this major change, without burning bridges and without breaking anyone's heart.
I don't want to be the blog that shames you for not following nomadism. That's silly.
Just as I don't want to be the blog that tells you only the happy highs of travel.
If your reasons for not following adventure feel like excuses to you, then sure. Go. Do. Make it happen and make it work. But there are real reasons to avoid this life.
I'm frustrated by reading things that suggest otherwise.